What if I told you that walking regularly on a treadmill can be a more important factor to lifespan than a history of diabetes, hypertension and obesity? Well, a new study suggests that it is true.
In short, researchers studied and compared 4,384 subjects over several years. They found that the people in the lowest 20 percent regarding fitness levels were twice as likely to die within roughly the next eight years as the 20 percent in the next lowest fitness level. The subjects in both groups were approximately 60 years old.
When speaking to the Reuters news agency, the lead researcher, Dr. Sandra Manic of the University of Otago in New Zealand stated, “Our findings suggest that sedentary lifestyle, rather than differences in cardiovascular risk factors or age, may explain (the) two-fold higher mortality rates in the least-fit versus slightly more fit healthy individuals.”
Of the study’s least-fit group, there was significantly less recent physical activity than in the next lowest group. There were only small differences in age, use of antihypertensive medications, prevalence of diabetes, and high cholesterol and triglycerides between the two lowest fitness groups.
Those results appear to strongly suggest that, as Dr. Mandic stated, cardiovascular risk factors are barriers that can be overcome by moderate exercise. They also suggest that beginning a fitness program, and not even a high-intensity regimen, can provide benefits at any age and extend the lifespan. Even further, it is “recent” physical activity that provides health benefit. A person is not precluded from extending both life and quality of life simply because they have never been physically active.
This study gives hope to many middle-aged to elderly people who, because of their health conditions and risk factors, feel they are lost causes. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Everyone can realize the benefits of physical conditioning and improve their physical, mental and spiritual quality of life. Oh, and live longer, too!